Nissan may pay big price for resistance to FCA-Renault merger

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has improved its offer to Renault for the proposed $35 billion merger of the two carmakers.

The surprise move came on a tumultuous day that saw a tentative agreement on merger terms between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and the French Government fall apart.

Fiat Chrysler has reportedly resolved key differences with France over its proposed merger with Renault, potentially clearing the way for the French carmaker to back the deal.

The company says its board made the decision at a meeting Wednesday evening.

The merger would have created the world's third-biggest automaker with combined sales of 8.7 million vehicles per year, and was meant to cut costs as the parties develop electric and autonomous vehicles.

"It has become clear that the political conditions in France do not now exist for such a combination to proceed successfully", the Fiat Chrysler statement said.

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A Renault employee familiar with the discussions said the board was moving in the direction of a deal Wednesday night, but provided no details.

Saikawa said in a statement that the Renault-Fiat Chrysler deal would "significantly alter" the structure of Nissan's longtime partnership with Renault, and Nissan would analyze its contractual relationships to protect the company's interests.

The American automaker thanked the heads of Renault, along with its Alliance partners Nissan and Mitsubishi.

France, Renault's biggest shareholder with a 15% stake, had been pressing for its own guaranteed seat on the new board and an effective veto on future CEO appointments.

"FCA will continue to deliver on its commitments through the implementation of its independent strategy".

In the proposal from FCA, the merger would create a company 50 percent owned by FCA shareholders and 50 percent by Renault shareholders.

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"The state will play its role fully as a Renault shareholder".

The prospect of new legal action backed by France marks a new headache for the former Renault CEO, who was also Nissan chairman in the alliance with the Japanese carmaker, after his arrest in Tokyo in November. "We want this merger, but we don't want it under just any conditions".

The French government, which maintains a 15% stake in Renault, said it would not approve a merger unless Nissan would still commit to the alliance.

WSJ reported that Nissan's two members on Renault's board were balking, while the rest of the board favored the merger.

"The case for combination is also strengthened by the need to take bold decisions to capture at scale the opportunities created by the transformation of the auto industry in areas like connectivity, electrification and autonomous driving".

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